The Joy of Museums

Finding Beauty & Meaning in Museums

“Primavera” by Sandro Botticelli


“Primavera” by Sandro Botticelli depicts a group of figures from classical mythology in a garden, brought together by Botticelli as an allegory based on the promised renewal of Spring and the cycle of the seasons. The precise meaning of this masterpiece is in debate amongst art historians, as the composition draws from a number of classical and Renaissance literary sources.

At the right is Zephyrus, god of the west wind, who kidnaps the nymph Chloris, whom he later marries, and she becomes the goddess of Spring. Chloris the nymph overlaps Flora, the goddess she transforms into. Flora is shown scattering or collecting roses from the ground.

In the centre stands Venus, gazing at the viewer and appears to be blessing the scene or cycle. The trees behind her form a broken arch and the blindfolded Cupid aims his bow to the left. On the left of the painting the Three Graces, are joining hands in a dance, however, one of them has noticed Mercury. Is she the target of cupids arrow? At the left Mercury, clothed in red with a sword and a helmet raises his rod towards the emerging clouds.

Botticelli has created a garden scenery which he has been detailed with hundreds of flowers and plant species. The costumes he has clothed his figures with are versions of the dress or theatrical costumes of contemporary Florence. Similar to his later mythological painting of “The Birth of Venus”, this allegorical composition’s primary appeal is its visual beauty and the debated elements of this composition just add to the mystery and allure of this painting.

Botticelli was an Italian painter of the Early Renaissance who belonged to the Florentine School under the patronage of Lorenzo de’ Medici. His mythological masterpieces are his best-known works today. However, he painted a wide range of religious subjects and portraits. He and his workshop were especially known for their many beautiful Madonna and Child paintings. He lived all his life in the same neighbourhood of Florence, and his only significant time elsewhere was the few months he spent painting in Pisa in 1474 and his work at the Sistine Chapel in Rome in 1481–82.


Essential Facts:

  • Title:                        Primavera
  • Meaning:                Spring
  • Artist:                      Sandro Botticelli
  • Year:                        1482
  • Dimensions            203 × 314 cm (79.9 × 123.6 in)
  • Museum:                Uffizi Gallery

Artist Essential Facts:

  • Name:                     Sandro Botticelli
  • Birth Name:          Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi
  • Born:                      c. 1445 – Florence, Republic of Florence, (now Italy)
  • Died:                       May 17, 1510 (aged c. 64) – Florence, Republic of Florence
  • Nationality:           Italian
  • Movement:            Italian Renaissance
  • Notable works:


“There are three classes of people: Those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.” Leonardo da Vinci



Photo Credit: Sandro Botticelli [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons